A big part of why this group was started was give those trapped in the SDA closet an outlet. One of the problems than many face is the fear of their spouses divorcing them and taking the kids if things were to become known.

 

That is a very difficult position to be in, one that I am fortunate to have not dealt with. By the looks of it we now have people in the group at all points of the process, single and out of the church, married with kids and stuck, and the hole family leaving the church. What advise would those who managed to make the exit a family affair have for those who are trapped in the closet?

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Oh, and for those of you who are secretly atheists, what is you plan for freeing yourself of the burden of the secrets and cognitive dissonance?
My husband attended church about once a month with the kids and I. I was the one who had worship with them and tried to keep them busy on Sabbaths while he napped or even read a non Sabbath book (gasp) in the back room, which frustrated my self righteous self to no end. And yet, he was always pushing for us to go vegan which was met with extreme resistance from me. Leaving Adventism really helped balance us both out, remove the source of some of our power struggles and improve our relationship.

Unfortunately, I've now gone atheist with left leaning political tendencies while he remains agnostic and conservative both politically and socially. This is making our attempts to rebuild our social lives difficult. I'm hoping it'll get better with time, as he may continue to mellow his views.

The change was hardest on our daughters who didn't know quite what to make of us changing our views on what we had always told them was right and wrong. In a way, it helped that we transitioned out to a non denominational mega church after Adventism, which was way fun in comparison, but then we left that too.

I would have a very hard time not letting my spouse know where I stood. I really feel for someone in that position. I would be inclined to at least let them know that I was experiencing some doubts about just what parts of Adventism I was on board with and that I would rather stop attending church in order to work out some issues on my own - perhaps spending it as a family day. If the believing spouse was willing to join in that, it seems that they might start relaxing their religious views over time, the longer they were away from the constant indoctrination going on in SS and church. The less you attend church, the more chance for clarity to seep in.

My first choice would just be a frank discussion though. Something along the lines of "I need to be honest with you about something and I know it might cause you great concern. I love you and I love our children, but I've been going through a real questioning process with religion. I can't say that I'm buying it anymore. I'm no longer willing to continue attending church, pretending that I belief something that I don't."

i think having a loving relationship to begin with is key, if you don't get along with your family then, you announcing your change of heart will magnify those problems...when your family knows that you are still the same loving 'christ-like' person, that you haven't started eating babies or worshiping the anti-christ (by going to catholic church, lol), when they can see that from the time you stopped becoming a believer and up until this point as an atheist, your morals and character have in no way decreased and in many ways have increased (i strangely enough became vegetarian after i left the church)  then that will make things a bit easier to swallow...i think letting them approach you is the best way too because some family members know but would prefer to pretend that you are still christian so just let them think that

 

i am personally out to my sisters and mother who are all pretty liberal and don't really care...i talk to my dad on the phone and he always says he's praying for me, i want to talk to him about it but i'm going to wait until i get to visit him in a few months and have a heart-to-heart, i don't think it's a skype-type of convo,  i feel like i owe it to him to open up, he is an elder and is very well 'educated' in adventist doctrine, could give a bible study off the top of his head, i went to adventist academy k-12 and adventist university too, i was supposed to become an elder and a leader in my church, i'm not quite sure how he's going to react, i hope he's positive and respects me now as a 36 year-old man whose rational can no longer lie to him, i hope that the idea that we both still are holding true to the principle of truth is enough to maintain our relationship

 

my well-wishes to everyone out there who is also still struggling with it all

I think I'll keep it from my mum until I'm asked directly. It stresses me out to keep it a secret. But I fear it would stress me out more to not keep it a secret, so . . . in the closet I stay.

We've 'come out' to a few of our friends and it didn't go well at all. We even framed it as a doctrinal disagreement- (and these are people who are not well-versed in their doctrine, even though they've been partaking of it since babyhood)- and yeah. No go.

 

So, I'm cautious. We have other friends in our neighborhood who are mostly evangelicals of varying stripe. Also stressful. Feel we have to keep the peace and keep quiet.

 

My husband and I are basically on the same page. He leans a bit more to the Sam Harris view of moderates in religion- while I am always delighted to find someone moderate enough to not have a cow when I explain myself to them. 

So, mostly in the closet I stay- except to my husband and a few friends I've made on this journey.

 

Outing myself to my mom would be... awful. I just know it.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

I've found these words to be very true.
Here's a story that might make some of you feel better about coming out as atheists:

At work, I try to keep it to myself unless someone says something that suggests that they are likely atheists, say something that's anti-atheist, or something too religious. If they send me a friend request on Facebook and I accept it, then they can also see it on my profile and get updates on the latest on my blog. All that being said, probably a quarter of my staff is aware of the fact that I am an atheist and nobody cares. Considering the fact that I am the second highest ranking person in the center, they're smart to not care.

A few months ago one of the QAs was saying something about heaven. I responded with something along the lines of, "That's not where I would want to go." She was shocked and puzzled by my response, so I let her know that it sounds quite boring and that I don't believe in a heaven or hell. Oh yeah, and I'm an atheist. Then we dropped it and got on with business.

About a month ago, we were working together on clearing some product for shipment when she said, "You don't believe in God, so you must worship the devil." I was surprised she said that, but responded with, "I don't believe in God, so I obviously don't believe in Satan. How could I possibly worship a being that I don't believe exists?" She just repeated the original statement and I told her that it was horribly illogical and certainly not the case. She seemed satisfied so we dropped it and moved on to the next case.

Today we were destroying some unsuitable product and she started trying to set me up with her sister. Based on the description, I might take her up on it (I might ask to see a picture first). I did clarify that it would be a deal breaker for me if she thought I was going to hell. The response that I got was that while she thinks I am, she's sure her sister wouldn't.

Atheists are the most hated group in America, but we can change that.

The closet is simultaneously a haven of refuge and an intolerable prison.

 

I was never in the closet as an atheist.  My transition to being an atheist has been open.

 

My experience in being in the gay closet is another matter.  It is living the life of a lie.  It is the wrestling with one's very identity.  It is fear of exposure.  For some, it ends in death.

 

I attend a small PFLAG chapter in Walla Walla, WA.  I don't know all of the PFLAG protocols on how to deal with the closet and how and when to come out.

 

But one thing I have learned, as far as gay kids coming out is concerned, is to advise them to NOT come out until they are for certain that they have a support mechanism ready for them.   It cannot be predicted with any certainty ahead of the coming out if the person will still be accepted, or severed from all connection.  There are incidents of parents/family expelling the coming-out person, ripping up the birth certificate, dis-inheriting, prohibiting contact again with the family.  It can lead to loss of employment.  Being black-balled.  Ostracized.  The coming-out person must have a pre-arranged place of support and safety in the event of those kinds of hazards.

 

With atheists being a hated minority, it is not unlike the hated gay minority, and to be both gay and atheist is one difficult set of circumstances. 

 

To come out frequently means a total change in one's activities of daily living, the location of habitation (typically moving to a larger setting with a known community of like-persons), and frequently a change to one's means of support.

 

For individuals married (gay and/or atheist), it frequently means the end of the marriage.  And the process can be bitter.  It may mean the loss of custody or even contact with children.  It may mean total separation.  It is like a death where the parties don't have the decency to die.

 

For some, it is the burning of all bridges to the past.  A past that can never be regained.

 

It can be a horrible decision. 

 

If it is a decision of choice, that is one thing.  To be "outed" as an atheist is quite another.  Frequently, the lies have to be intensified to maintain one's very existence. 

 

Sam Harris is right.  Even moderate religion can have evil consequences.

 

When I listen to the experiences and stories told by gay people who have come out of the closet, all most without exception, it is a story of pain but eventual triumph.  Frequently, there does come a reconciliation.  What seemed like a living hell at the time, in time, became healed.

 

As a popular initiative proclaims, "It Gets Better." 

I actually came out to some friends.  My wife and I were visiting some friends we had not seen in a long while. I mentioned that I was an atheist.  A couple days later we met up again and our friend mentioned that her husband was looking for a job.  She asked me to pray for him.  She paused; realized what she had just said and just busted up laughing.
I'm single, never married and out, so I'm sorry if this comes across too judgmental, but if you've gone all the way from believing to being an atheist and your spouse doesn't know about it, your marriage has more serious issues than a difference of belief.

The one major exception would be if you had a life changing event and became an atheist suddenly. If you were a nonbeliever before you got married you probably should have mentioned that before the wedding. If you became a nonbeliever more slowly than a few days, you should have taken the time to communicate your doubts, reasoning and feelings with your spouse as they happened.

Doing so might have caused some of the problems you're now scared to confront, but it would have been honest and you could face the consequences at least semi-rationally together, with your spouse, instead of plotting, hiding and pretending like you're doing now. My naive recommendation if you're already in this situation is to simulate going through the loss of faith slowly with your spouse. Talk to them. Let their impression of your beliefs catch up to the reality of your beliefs, but try to do it without startling them.

If you plan to never come out, then I don't understand you. You're in for a life of frustration and hurt. Good luck.

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